At some point, a car owner will want to know how to tell if the power steering pump is bad, and this is the best article to give you information about this.
Power steering is an important part of most vehicles, and we aren’t keen on it, but driving would be much harder without it.
It helps make turning the steering wheel easier, especially in heavy vehicles, so you need to be able to tell when your power steering pump has an issue.
A small mishap in the steering system can lead to a fatal accident, so let us look at how you can troubleshoot it;
How To Tell If The Power Steering Pump Is Bad
Hydraulic power steering systems are common in most vehicles and use hydraulic liquid to make steering easy.
You will get accustomed to your vehicle and how much effort you use in steering, making any issues with the power steering pump a concern.
If you are used to a specific amount of effort, changes in the system might lead to you making a mistake and getting into an accident. So what are the signs that your power steering pump is bad? Let us get the details and find out;
1. It gets hard to turn the steering wheel.
The whole purpose of a power steering pump is to make it easier for drivers to turn the steering wheel. Turning the steering wheel will be much harder if the power steering pump has an issue.
The steering will feel stiff, and it will almost be like you are driving a vehicle with manual steering, which is tougher to turn. If you notice an increased stiffness in the steering that resembles manual steering, it is time to visit the repair shop.
2. Unresponsiveness from the steering wheel
One of the most concerning signs of a bad power steering pump is that the steering wheel doesn’t work. You could turn the steering wheel in the car, but the tires won’t change direction since all the power is lost within the system.
This can put you in danger, especially if you are on a highway with a lot of traffic or a road with many turns.
This problem comes up later in the signs, so you must go to the repair shop before the issue becomes this serious.
3. Strange noises during turns
Your car should not produce strange sounds when turning the steering wheel. When you turn, a groaning sound inside the car is a textbook sign of a bad power steering pump, and you need to fix it ASAP.
You sometimes hear whining, especially when you make sharp turns or maneuver at a relatively high speed.
The car should be silent when you turn, so any noises you hear are a red flag, and you need a mechanic to check them out and give you professional advice.
4. Squealing when you start the car
This is not an issue with the steering pump; rather, the belt that powers the pump can also affect steering.
The squealing noise will come out when you turn on the car if the belt is loose and gets louder the more the belt loosens.
If you don’t fix it, the belt could damage other parts of the steering system, including the power steering pump. Get a mechanic to tighten the best as soon as possible to prevent the problem from worsening.
5. Power steering fluid leaks and color
Power steering pumps are hydraulic systems, and this means they use a fluid to transmit pressure.
If the pump is bad, you will notice a reddish-brown fluid dripping from the power steering reservoir of your vehicle.
You can regularly check the power steering fluid level to see any drops. Ensure the fluid is between the min and max markers to stay safe. It is also important to look at the color of the fluid when checking the level.
The color of the power steering fluid also changes depending on how well-maintained the system is. Clean fluid is usually red or pink, but a damaged pump will allow air into the system. The air will oxidize the fluid, and its color will change to gray.
Oxidized fluid will not work as well as it should, and it could cause more issues in the pump, so you must get a fix.
What Are The Causes Of Power Steering Pump Failure?
Understanding the source of all the issues with your vehicle is important to leave you in a better position to prevent them. Here are the most common causes of issues with the power steering pump;
Contaminated steering fluid
Steering fluid moves inside your entire steering system, including the power steering pump. If the steering has contaminants like water, metal shards, rock particles, or any other impurities, it will cause damage to the pump.
Solid particles increase the pump’s wear and tear, reducing its lifespan. Other impurities affect the pressure levels in the pump and can cause overexertion, which reduces the pump’s efficiency over time.
Low steering fluid levels
Power steering fluid is necessary for transmitting the power and lubricating moving parts of the steering system. More friction will produce heat if the system has low steering fluid levels.
This leads to a chain reaction that damages the power transmission and will soon move the damage to the steering puller and, finally, the pump.
Worn-out power steering pulley
The power steering pulley connects to the power steering pump through a belt, moving the pressure from the steering wheel to the tires. As the power steering pulley wears out, it performs less efficiently.
It might get shaky or damage the belt, which in turn will destroy the power steering pump. The pulley constantly moves and wears out at the belt, so you must replace it regularly.
Poor maintenance is the biggest concern regarding moving parts of any vehicle. Forgetting to change the power steering fluid or belt one or two times might be all you need to destroy your power steering pump.
Without proper maintenance, it is impossible to spot underlying issues that might cause damage to the pump.
Therefore, you need to have a good mechanic to check all aspects of your steering system to ensure you aren’t in danger while driving.
Cracked hose or hose clamp
A crack in the steering system brings up several issues that might lead to your power steering pump going bad.
First, they will allow contaminants to get into the fluid, which can cause damage to the pump and reduce its lifespan.
A loose clamp also means air can get in, leading to the power steering fluid oxidizing and damaging the pump. A crack in the hose also reduces hydraulic pressure on the steering gear, damaging the pump.
A worn-out or loose belt
The belt is important in the power steering system since it keeps the power steering pulley and pump in the correct alignment. When the belt gets loose or wears out, it loosens the grip on these components.
The components might start shaking and rubbing against each other, and the friction will damage the pulley and pump. This produces noise and will wear down your pump; therefore, you need to fix it.
Tips To Properly Maintain Your Power Steering System
You can avoid all these issues with the steering pump by properly maintaining your vehicle’s power steering system.
Prevention is a better choice and is much cheaper than repairing your car. Here are some tips that can help you keep your car at its best;
- Check the power steering fluid level regularly to make sure it is at the right level so you don’t get friction issues within the steering system.
- Ensure the power steering fluid is clean and the color is right without any contaminants that might damage the power steering pump.
- Change the fluid filter annually to ensure the fluid moves freely without blockages or risk of contamination.
- Regularly check the pump for damage and replace any components that have problems before they cause more damage to the system.
- Flush the steering system when necessary, especially if the liquid is dirty, to replace it with new fluid that can support better health for your car.
You now know how to tell if the power steering pump is bad in your vehicle so you can get it fixed. Steering is one of the most important aspects of a vehicle, and you should go to the mechanic as soon as you note any sign that indicates a problem with the steering pump.
These issues get worse and more dangerous with time, so it is best to address them as soon as you notice them. Maintain your vehicle appropriately to prevent such issues and deal with them before they get serious.